If you’re planning your labour and thinking about using a TENS machine to help out with pain relief, then you’re probably really curious about how much it will work to control pain. We’ve provided over 10,000 TENS machine hires for mums now, so we think we can probably help answer your questions. Here are our thoughts:
TENS works best if you start using it earlier in labour
There’s often a temptation to try and ‘save’ the TENS machine for later in labour and make do without it early on. Don’t do this! The earlier you start using it, the more effect it will have. This is because you will stay more relaxed, so be better able to cope with the later labour pains, plus the TENS will have more time to build endorphins so your body has more natural pain relief on board.
The goal is to keep you relaxed and feel like you can handle things, not stop all pain
What we have noticed with women who use TENS through their labour is that they report a generally more relaxed experience. This isn’t foolproof of course – sometimes unexpected things happen, and if pain becomes more than you can cope with there are other options. In general though what the TENS will do is take the edge off, help you stay more relaxed and help you cope with the pain that you do experience. It’s not going to give you a pain free experience or block out all sensation, it is going to make what you experience more manageable.
Consider practicing beforehand, especially in combination with other tools
The TENS will be more effective if you’re familiar with how it works and the sensations it creates ahead of time. (Do not wait until labour starts to unpack your TENS! lol). You can use your TENS from 37 weeks, and it does work well to help out with back or pelvic pain as well. If you planning to use tools like breathing exercises, hypnobirthing or bouncing on a yoga ball then practice combining these with your TENS machine too. All these techniques will work together to provide a better experience, and there is some evidence that if you practice beforehand so that your brain associates them together it will build a stronger effect.
If you want to try other pain relief, that’s fine too
Some mums are really committed to a drug free labour, and others just want to give it a go and see how they go. Either is fine and it’s your choice. If you do feel during labour that you want to try drugs, then keep using your TENS as it will still work and will continue to supplement whatever other pain relief you try. (Unless you get an epidural, in which case you won’t need the TENS). Studies have shown that women who use TENS in labour do ask for less pain relief – even if you do try gas or pethidine for example, you are likely to request less than if you weren’t using the TENS.
Should you use TENS?
Every woman’s body responds differently to the TENS stimulation AND to labour, so there’s no definitive answer. It is difficult to accurately measure how effective a form of pain relief it is. As mentioned above, research shows that women using TENS in labour are less likely to request additional forms of pain relief, and are less likely to report very high levels of pain. Probably the best indication of TENS’ effectiveness is that nearly every woman who uses TENS in her labour says she will do so again.
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Find out how to order a TENS for labour
Sweet Beats provides a hire out service for mums wanting to use TENS as pain relief in labour. Book a 5 week hire right here online on the next page.